By: Michael L. Wright
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Commisioner Of High School Athletics Working To Lessen Childhood Sports Injuries
Teen and children’s sports related injuries may be on the rise, but one man is fighting to stop these injuries. Mark Dreibelbis has worked as a student athlete, coach, sideline official, and an administrator for sports rules. Dreibelbis is a commissioner for the N.C. High School Athletic Association which works to improve the safety of sports for teens and children. This month, Dreibelbis is being honored nationally for his work in requiring all sports coaches in his state to be nationally certified to teach sports.
Dreibelbis started his journey to make sports safer for kids over 10 years ago. Recent studies and reports on sports safety have found that head injuries can be much more dangerous than previously thought. This data has been instrumental for Dreibelbis and other national organizations to implement new rules for children’s sports teams that work to reduce head injuries. Steps taken have included laws which require a player to be pulled from a game if the athlete suffers a head injury, to incurring penalties for hits to the head during games.
Dreibelbis was the first to implement a rule requiring football players to be removed from play if their helmets come off. This ruling has now been adopted nationally. According to the N.C. High School Athletic Association, this ruling prompts players to avoid head collisions and ensure their helmets fit properly. Dreibelbis has also worked to make changes such as teaching students how to tackle without causing head injuries and limiting the number of hours that students can engage in full-contact practice.
The safety improvements for children’s sports injuries are not limited to football, however. Baseball has its own set of dangerous injuries, ranging from frequent concussions to multiple elbow surgeries. The high number of elbow surgeries has prompted national committees to look into the possibility of limiting the number of pitches that students can throw in a week.
North Carolina is not the only state working to improve sports safety for child players. A study conducted by The Ohio State University found that the number of concussions seen by Ohio sports players has more than doubled since 2005. These shocking statistics have prompted Ohio sports associations to examine their own rulings and limitations on how much physical content child sports players can have. Ohio implemented a return-to-play law in 2013 requiring that all coaches take a special course in recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussions, and that before a student can return to the field after an injury, a physician must sign a note that the student is cleared to play again. Coaches are required to pull students from play who exhibit signs of a concussion.
The return-to-play law is just the first step in improvements in sports safety for children and teens. Sports safety organizations across the nation are working with lawmakers to improve the safety of children’s sports and prevent dangerous and potentially deadly injuries in children of all ages.
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